Bit of excitement for fast bowlers in familiar conditions - Southee

Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner stand for the national anthems with the rest of their team Getty Images

"A bit of excitement," "a spring in the step for the fast bowlers" - this is how Tim Southee described the feelings inspired by the Basin Reserve pitch in Wellington, two days out from the first Test against Sri Lanka.

There are no surprises here, really. Both teams knew what kind of surface would await them for the first match of this series. Two days out, the strip is only barely distinguishable from the outfield. New Zealand might have toppled Pakistan on the tawny-coloured surfaces in Abu Dhabi, but at home, when an Asian team is visiting, New Zealand pitches tend to have a uniform hue: a vivid, intimidating, almost violent, green.

"It's back to familiar conditions, and somewhere that we've played very good cricket for a number of years now," Southee said of New Zealand's good home record. "It's nice to come back to conditions that we're used to. We've come from a place that wasn't easy, especially for pace bowlers. There's a bit of excitement and a spring in the step for the fast bowlers anyway."

Home comforts mean the shape of the New Zealand XI changes too - where Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner didn't play a Test together in the UAE, with two specialist spinners preferred, the trio will probably be reunited on Saturday. And it is these three that perhaps represent New Zealand's greatest strength at home. Since the start of 2014, they have collected almost identical wicket tallies at home, Wagner leading the chart with 80 dismissals, with Boult on 79 and Southee on 78. Their averages, which are in the mid 20s, are less than 1.5 apart as well.

"It's nice - Trent and I have played a lot of cricket together over the years, with Neil as well, in Test cricket," Southee said. "We're very good mates and we enjoy each other's success and enjoy playing alongside each other. It's nice to be in similar sort of numbers. Trent's done extremely well at this ground, and Neil has as well."

Southee did point out, though, that a green pitch does not necessarily mean the quicks will rule right through the Test. The Basin Reserve surface has a way of drying out, and letting the batsmen back into the match. Kumar Sangakkara scored a double-hundred at the venue, last time Sri Lanka visited. Shakib Al Hasan did the same for Bangladesh at the beginning of 2017.

Nor has the Basin Reserve been one of New Zealand's best venues. Two of their last four Test results at the ground have been losses, at the hands of South Africa in 2017 and an innings defeat to Australia a year before that.

"We've seen in the past at the Basin, that if you can get in, it's also a very good wicket to bat on," Southee said. "I don't think the guys will get too carried away. We've come from the UAE where there's not a lot of grass on the wicket, but here also can be very good for batting. We're going to have to be on top of our game.

"I remember a couple of years ago Bangladesh scored 500-odd here. It's a strength of our side not to get carried away with conditions. We don't know what it's going to be like when we get out there. We'll try and assess the conditions as quick as we can."